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Luke Haines grapples with the wrestling scene

November witnesses the release of a late entry for the title of strangest album of the year. Luke Haines, formerly the twisted genius behind The Auteurs and Black Box Recorder, has unveiled 9 ½ Psychedelic Meditations On British Wrestling Of The 1970s and Early 1980s.

The album does exactly what it says on the sleeve, offering Haines’s characteristically mordant observations of the grapple scene. These are imagined, or fondly remembered from a childhood spent watching World of Sport on Saturday afternoons and, as Haines sings, eating liver sausage sandwiches.

Throughout his career Haines has had a fascination for British popular culture and murky 20th century history, writing songs about Gary Glitter, Jonathan King, Andrew Ridgeley and Lord Lucan.

The wrestling theme starts off as an amusing gimmick, but Haines is obviously devoted to his subject, and ends up securing his listeners in a remorseless headlock. The brilliant and rather touching Gorgeous George evokes the heady era of the late 70s, when the Wolverhampton Civic Hall was the big time venue on the wrestling circuit.

It all gets a bit poignant when Haines sings about the enforced unmasking of the fake Samurai Kendo Nagasaki. The wrestler’s real identity only emerged when he got a plumber round to fix a leak. The mood lifts with a ditty about Big Daddy’s fascination with a Casio keyboard.

The album probably won’t feature highly on the best of 2011 polls, but it might be the perfect Christmas present for the nostalgic wrestling fan in the family.

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